A third of Cameroon's team at Gold Coast 2018 went missing afterwards ©Getty Images

Approximately 50 athletes have stayed in Australia illegally after vanishing during last month's Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, a Government official has claimed.

Malisa Golightly, from the Department of Home Affairs, told a Senate Estimates Committee in Canberra today that the Government had "had no contact" with the missing athletes, but added "we know they haven't left".

She said that around 190 of the 205 athletes and officials legally in the country are looking to secure protection visas.

The remaining number are applying for business or other visas.

It was reported last week that some of the athletes who went missing in Australia after Gold Coast 2018 could be able to remain in the country legally after receiving assistance with their applications from a refugees group.

Golightly stated that the Department of Home Affairs would try to assess the applications as soon as possible, but would not give any certainties on timing.

"They will be assessed according to the standard criteria - that part of the process will be the standard process," she was reported as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We will give them priority as far as we can."

All those who competed at the Games were able to stay in the host nation legally until May 15, when their visas expired.

At least 23 athletes from African countries are now believed to have gone missing, however.

This includes eight from Cameroon, six from Ghana and others from Rwanda, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

Ghanaian weightlifter Ruth Baffoe is one of numerous athletes and officials who have vanished ©Getty Images
Ghanaian weightlifter Ruth Baffoe is one of numerous athletes and officials who have vanished ©Getty Images

"If they breach the conditions, they're subject to enforcement action," Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said.

"Like anyone else, they're expected to operate within the law, and enforcement action will take place to identify those people and to deport them if they don't self-declare."

David Addington, the chairman of Sydney's Northern Beaches Refugee Sanctuary, which helps refugees migrate to Australia, said that some have already received "bridging" visas.

A bridging visa allows an applicant to stay in the country until a final decision is made.

Dutton's office has not confirmed if these have been granted and urged the missing athletes to present themselves to Border Force officers.

Two Ugandan rugby sevens players, Benon Kizza and Philip Pariyo, went missing after the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

They were reportedly seen working at a car wash in Cumbernauld, a town 14 miles to the north-east of Glasgow, but were later found living at a hostel for asylum seekers in Cardiff.

Twenty-six athletes and officials sought asylum in Australia after the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Cameroon weightlifters Francois Etoundi and Simplice Ribouem were both granted refugee status and have since competed for Australia.

Etoundi won men's under-77 kilograms bronze medals for his new nation at Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018.

He was arrested for breaking the nose of fellow weightlifter Gareth Evans of Wales in the Scottish city and sent home following a post-competition fight.